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I was reading recently about the disadvantages of solar energy. It seems as though a lot of people think that solar energy will never replace our traditional forms of fossil-fuel energy production.
To begin with, there is that “frustrating aspect” about night time. Since solar panels can only produce electricity during the daytime, they lose a lot of their potential and usability as soon as the sun disappears each night.
Additionally, people are concerned about the damage the mining practices required to make solar panels can have on the environment. Unfortunately, there is not a good way to get around mining the material. The only benefit is that it will limit the amount of pollution to a small, defined area, as opposed to spreading smog everywhere as our current energy production methods do.
And then you have the cost issue. Solar panels use a lot of the same base components as the semiconductor industry which helps to drive the price higher. This means that even cheap solar panels are going to cost at least $4 per watt to install. When you consider that our other methods can produce electricity for as little as 12-cents for every 1,000 watts, it become clear that solar panels are quite expensive for most applications.
Really, the cost of solar panels are probably the biggest reason they do not progress more rapidly. It has often been discussed that solar panels need to reach grid parity before they will be accepted as a mainstream power source. Right now, grid parity — that point where they cost the same amount as most grid electricity in the United States — is thought to be somewhere around the $1 per watt mark.
Thanks to rising energy costs, grid parity may be reached sooner. While solar panel manufacturers are fighting to lower the price of their panels, energy officials are struggling to lower their own energy prices. We may soon see a point where the rising energy costs and cheaper solar panels unexpectedly intersect, ushering in a new age of power.
Until then, homeowners can try using solar power on their own in the form of solar panels, solar lights and solar pool covers .